In March 2020, the Botswana Government announced a 28- day extremely social distancing in response to the covid-19 precautions. This exercise meant that most businesses will be closed and people forced to stay in their houses. There was a sudden cry of households and people who survived by petty trading and manual Social distancing for them was a jail sentence. No food, no money. The Botswana Government took it upon its self to start initiatives that will help its people and their businesses.
BOTSWANA GOVERNMENT TO THE PEOPLE
The first response that the Botswana Government put in place was to seek for donations from individuals and businesses in the country. Both small and big companies answered the call. They donated in their different capacities. Having gathered reasonable funds, the Botswana Government then set up a team of social workers to assess different households so that they will be assisted or met half way. Despite politics and some ungrateful people and corrupt individuals who wanted to use this opportunity for their self benefits, the initiative was well received and to date, most households have received their basic food parcels. These parcels differ from one households to another depending on the size and their supplier.
TO THE BUSINESSES
A lot of businesses were already retrenching their employees while some cut their salaries and others were promised to freeze their employment. The Botswana Government, led by President Mokgweetsi Masisi, called for a state of emergency where he delivered some regulations to protect his people. One of the regulations was to instruct businesses not to retrench any employee and they have to pay their salaries.
Since we can not neglect the fact that businesses too are suffering because of COVID19, the government had them in mind too. An initiative was to put in place to help companies pay their employees’ salaries. The government would pay 50%. Companies were instructed to submit their employees’ payroll to the country’s tax regulator. Some did, some did not! Well, clearly because some companies were not tax compliant. They did not want to expose themselves. For the companies that submitted all the relevant information, their employees were paid.
FROM BUSINESSES TO THE BOTSWANA GOVERNMENT
The Botswana Government paid companies to pay their employees on their behalf. Unfortunately some companies did not comply. There have been paid by the government but chose not to pay their employees. The government published a list of companies that they paid for people who haven’t been paid to confirm. The list can be obtain at http://www.finance.gov.bw through the http://www.gov.bw website.
TO NON CITIZENS
Despite the challenges that COVID19 ponders on the economy of a country, the Botswana Government did not use it as an excuse to ignore its non- citizens. All the privileged that the citizens enjoyed, payment of salaries and food parcels, they enjoyed them too. This is something that is commendable. Most African countries should learn this from this 2.3 million populated country. True governance shapes the country!
I personally commend the Botswana Government’s efforts to help keep their people sane during the pandemic. I also recommend our health practitioners who have worked tirelessly to ensure that our patients recovers. So far we gave few active cases and each day our patients are recovering. It doesn’t mean our government is spotless but it is important to embrace the good when they outshines the bad.
After a conversation I had with one of my friend in another African country where the situation is getting out of hand – he gave an excuse that the only reason why Botswana is succeeding in Intl plans to combate this pandemic is because of our 2.3 million population. Do you think population plays a major role in how a country respond to crisis? Let me know your opinion below!